I have been writing this column since 2006 and there is one topic I have never written on – transgenderism. What do you do if your boy wants to identify as a girl?
A recent story about retired basketball player Dwayne Wade and his wife Gabrielle, helped push me to write. One of their four children is 12 years old. He was given the name Zion at birth, but struggled with his gender early on, feeling more like a girl. As the years went by, they eventually met as a family to talk about Zion’s struggle and his desire to become a girl and take the new name, Zaya. Dwayne and his wife are being intentional about taking a private family matter and bringing it into the public arena. They want to support their son’s transition and other families in similar places.
I am choosing to identify Zion according to his birth gender, which I realize is a point of difference with the Wade family.
Prior to Zion’s transition, Dwayne Wade talked in an interview, about how he struggled anticipating the whole scenario happening within his family. He recounted a conversation with himself, “What are you going to do if your child comes home and says, ‘Dad, I’m not a boy … I’m a trans girl.’ What are you going to do?”
When I read that, I thought how honest that was. What would a parent do? That is not something you plan for when raising a family.
A second thing I read that prompted me to write, was information about transgenderism in rural America. According to the Movement Advanced Project, three to four million people in rural areas say they are gay, lesbian, transgender or bi-sexual. Most likely there are hundreds of thousands of families in small towns grappling with children who do not feel comfortable with their birth gender, like Zion. Let me offer two points of advice.
- Listen. A parent should provide an environment where their child can come and share anything and not feel condemned. If your child struggles with their gender, give him or her a place to talk.
- Give wise counsel. A parent’s role is to teach and provide guidance. This depends on the values of a family. The Wade’s have their own way of walking through it, which will likely be different than yours.
Where would you go-to for help in a situation like this? Your own parents, a friend, counselor, a quick internet search?
I recommend God’s Word, the Bible. God’s Word is a time-tested, proven source for absolute moral truth. It is the only standard for right and wrong and addresses gender issues. It is the logical place for any family to go.
“God created man in his own image,” the Bible says “… male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). This teaches that God is the Creator of human beings and He made us into two genders.
This is a theological, historical, scientific, biological and moral statement of truth. There cannot be more than two genders and the genders cannot cross over. A male will always be a male and a female will always be a female.
And after God created man and woman, what did He say? He blessed them and saw “everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). He saw the genders He made, male and female, as beautiful, marvelous creations.
But after God made everything perfect, evil entered the world and corrupted all that was good. God still saw men and women as wonderfully made, but they did not see themselves that way because of their corrupt heart. When men want to live as women and women as men it is a symptom of that evil from long ago.
We must teach our children that God made them a boy or girl and it is beautiful thing. He did not make a mistake. He made them just as they are and it is to be celebrated. And though there may be legitimate feelings of gender confusion, they can take these to God in prayer and He can help them to see the wonder in how He made them.
A prayer for you – “Lord God, help any parents or grandparents who might be struggling in how to engage a young person who is confused with who they are. Give them an ability to listen. Give them insight in providing wise and truthful counsel. May their child or grandchild see themselves as you see them and celebrate how you made them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”